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Published on January 17, 2024
San Francisco Celebrates a Century of Bilingual Education at Notre Dame des Victoires SchoolSource: Google Street View

San Francisco's venerable Notre Dame des Victoires School, a beacon of bilingual education and cultural fusion, marked a century of academics and community service this past weekend with a swell of pride and historical reflection. The quaint, steepled building on Pine Street, tethered heartily to its French roots, unfurled memories of presidents and war heroes as it celebrated its 100-year milestone with much fanfare, reports SFGate. Principal Sarah Currier reveled in the attendance of some 400 guests—towering past the school's 275-strong student body—at the festivities hosted on the steps of the city's grand City Hall, echoing the school’s very foundation in 1924.

San Francisco Mayor London Breed hailed the institution at the event, saying, "It is a joy and an honor to have you here, the students, teachers, and parents, to celebrate 100 years of this amazing institution in San Francisco," according to an SFGate interview. While across the virtual sphere, French Consul General Frederic Jung tweeted his homage, expressing, "NDV is a symbol of the lasting friendship between France & the city of San Francisco," solidifying the event as not just a local celebration but an international statement of camaraderie and cultural appreciation. The post was met with virtual applause on the X page.

The centenary feted the school’s rich history, where the French language is not just a subject but a vessel for cultural immersion, with each student graduating with a solid facility in French. The institution stands not just physically on Pine Street but as a testimony to the staying power of a French-American educational alliance made manifest in San Francisco. The school's roots, according to its historical recount, stretch back to 1924 when two Marist fathers founded the school under the banner of the Catholic faith and bilingual education, driven by the encouragement of Archbishop Edward J. Hanna.

Educators over the decades have kept the lamp of French culture burning bright, ensuring the school remained tethered to its founding mission. "The people who came here 100 years ago had us in mind, and they strove to create a strong community," Currier told an SFGate interview, attesting to a legacy that neither dimmed with the sunset of the all-sister staff nor wavered in the face of San Francisco’s seismic cultural shifts since. A timeline on the school’s website marks the expansion of the 1949 school facilities and the notable 150th church anniversary in 2006, punctuating the school's evolution alongside the city's metamorphoses.

With a sense of grandeur and modesty, Notre Dame des Victoires concluded its centenary celebrations, its choir of students, dressed to the nines in sailor suit uniforms, serenading onlookers with anthems delicate and patriotic—a hark back to a moment with Charles de Gaulle, yet simultaneously a step forward into the school's next century. And while the 2024 calendar promises a year brimming with festivities, according to NDV's website, it is clear that the heart of the celebrations lies not in the pomp but in the quiet daily triumphs of education, culture, and community forged over a past, present, and future meshed lovingly together at NDV.